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EDITORIAL: An open letter to President-elect Michael Lovell

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Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/ rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/ rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Dear President-elect Michael Lovell,

Amid all the disruptions this school year, we at the Tribune thought we should welcome you to the show. May your arrival mean the long string of scandals, departures and general bad publicity is ending. You are coming into a position where you’ll need to answer for a few things and re-instill a transparent university administration.

The university saw 10 resignations of high-ranking administrators in the past school year. With departures at varying levels and departments – ranging from the iconic men’s basketball head coach position to the university president – there was a pressing need for strong leadership and answers to the questions left in their wake. Unfortunately, there was no progress in the search of a permanent dean of the College of Business Administration, and other vacancies inhibited possible movement. These vacancies affect students as well as university departments, and going into the next year, it will be important to fill these positions rather than try to function without them. Actions toward a full staff should follow your new appointment and will hopefully last.

Along with the vacant leadership positions affecting students, the administration at times ignored their voices. After the university’s cancellation of the FemSex program in October, there was a lack of discussion and justification voiced from the administration which reflected poorly on its relationship with students. The academic freedom of Femsex coordinators and voices of students were not heard. We are interested to see how you will handle such situations and hope you will open doors that allow students to fully enter the university’s discussion of sensitive topics like sexuality. There is room for a stronger communicative relationship between administrators and students regarding university values.

The administration hasn’t been at its strongest this year, and students fell short in expressing their views on the university. Former student athlete Charley Gargano’s physical assault on a DPS officer and subsequent arrest, transgressions associated with the club hockey team’s buses and recent reports of hazing and sexual assault in the Greek Life community reflect some student misconduct. The rest of the university cannot help its indirect association with these incidents. There needs to be a reaffirmation of what is expected of students attending this institution. As our incoming leader, you have the opportunity to reassert what the university stands for and establish new policies to address misconduct amongst students.

The university also implemented budget cuts to different departments this year, including the complete elimination of the Office of Administration. Job responsibilities shifted to different departments and the chain of command was altered. Some of these cuts were necessary, we understand, to work toward a more sustainable model for the university. Others were counterproductive to the university mission we all share. The layoff of Social Innovation Initiative founder Jeff Snell eliminated one of the university’s strongest connections to the social innovation world beyond Wisconsin Ave. This lead to the loss of a highly prestigious partnership with the New York Times and the university’s most inventive entrepreneur in residence. Even afterward, the SII was not given the appropriate attention to thrive in Snell’s absence.

We know you haven’t let these negative stories keep you from joining the Marquette community, so it might also be nice to also recognize some high points. As we emphasized in Tuesday’s editorial, people at Marquette have been busy achieving in different areas. Upon receiving substantial donations for its construction, plans are underway for a new Jesuit Residence on campus. Nancy Snow, professor of philosophy, received a research grant of $2.6 million, the largest humanities grant in Marquette’s history. Marquette was recognized for the third consecutive year as a green campus by the Princeton Review for its sustainability, and many organizations are gaining national recognition. This is the kind of attention the university needs and the success of those who work so hard on campus deserve.

Your appointment is also on the list of good press for the university. As our first lay president and advocate for social innovation, your new ideas as a non-ordained Catholic will surely shake things up a bit. We are eager to be a part of all the productive changes you will bring to Marquette moving forward. Hiring a new university president and coach Steve Wojciechowski in a two-week span brought a sigh of relief that had long been missing from recent conversations about the university’s well-being.

Though there were innumerable positive moments at Marquette this year, it is important for you as our new president to come in with helpful solutions to the problems we face. All these negative events portray Marquette as a university in regression when most of the community is trying to push us forward. On your end, we need to move toward greater transparency and progressive leadership. We need to be reminded the reason this university exists in the first place is to educate, to allow a space for students to grow, for professors to conduct research and to open avenues for us to leave a greater impact on society. You have the task of bringing this commitment back into focus.

This year, our moments of concern overshadowed our accomplishments on campus. We hope your arrival will prove to be a major turning point for the university that weathered a long year of ups and downs. We hope you will emphasize the potential this university has from the moment you begin your new role.

We at the Tribune implore you to take into consideration the events of this year, to find new ways for us to productively move forward and to carry your brand of leadership to this institution. We look forward to working with you in next year and joining you in finding new ways to let Marquette grow and prosper.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “EDITORIAL: An open letter to President-elect Michael Lovell”

  1. mgrimaldi on May 1st, 2014 11:56 am

    Nicely done. I’d offer the comment that the headline on Claire Nowak’s column today applies here, too: “Not everything’s perfect — and that’s awesome”

    — Michael Grimaldi, J ’71

  2. grannysm on May 1st, 2014 1:11 pm

    And I dearly hope that academics begins to get the front-and-center attention it deserves. Having a winning basketball team would be nice, but that’s not what Marquette is all about.

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